Last year, on the south end of the Twin Cities, Bethany International hosted a conference with Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission. Youth with a Mission, known simply as YWAM has had nearly one million DTS (Discipleship Training School) alumni, and over 5 million alumni that have gone thru their various ministries over the past 6 decades.
I had the privilege to do a radio interview with Loren before the conference, and to participate in various meetings at the conference as he was sharing. In one of the meetings, I listened to Loren share firsthand about an encounter he had with Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ a few decades ago:
In 1975, Bill Bright and Loren Cunningham randomly ran into each other at the Colorado airport and decided to grab lunch together. Loren excitedly began to tell Bill about a recent vision God had given him. In the middle of his sharing, Bill pulled out a scribbled piece of paper out of his bag with his notes on the exact same vision God had given him!
"That vision was that if we are to impact any nation for Jesus Christ, then we would have to affect the seven spheres, or mountains of society that are the pillars of any society. These seven mountains are business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family and religion. There are many subgroups under these main categories.
About a month later the Lord showed Francis Schaeffer the same thing. In essence, God was telling these three change agents where the battlefield was. It was here where culture would be won or lost. Their assignment was to raise up change agents to scale the mountains and to help a new generation of change agents understand the larger story of how to occupy and transform cities and nations." (source: reclaim7mountains.com)
Carl Lentz, Lead Pastor of Hillsong in New York City has been tweeting about this idea lately, using the tag #OccupyAllStreets.
This is what it means for Church to occupy: not simply occupy seats within the church, but to occupy streets across the earth.
By streets, I don't necessarily mean we need to embark on an agressive form of street evangelism, but rather taking the glory of God to the places He has called each of us - for some of us - banks, medical research facilities, scientific labs, investment firms, foreign nations and beyond.
It’s not about our role. Our heroes in Scripture were not all preachers or Pastors. To occupy is to walk closely with the Lord, to see and behold His glory for ourselves, to do exactly what He tells us to do, and to take the message of His glory to whatever world He places us in.
Abraham Kuyper said, "There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: 'Mine!'" So this message of Christ's glory must also be evident outside the Church walls, and spill into the streets of the earth.
We occupy for one purpose, and one purpose only – that the glory of God would fill the earth.
Occupying is not our mission. John Piper was right when he said, "missions (or occupying) exists because worship doesn’t." Ultimately, we desire God to recieve more glory.
David’s cries out in his final prayer in Psalm 72: "Let the whole earth be filled with His glory!" This is our prayer in this generation.
But we also understand that in order for God to fill the earth with His glory, He has to fill us with His glory. In order for us to occupy all streets for the glory of God, the glory of God has to take up the occupation in our own heart.